Bernese Mountain Dog

Other Names : Berner, Berner Sennenhund, Bernese Cattle Dog

Country of Origin : Switzerland

Dog Group : Working Dog


This breed can be traced back 2000 years when the Romans invaded Switzerland, then known as Helvetia, being used as cattle drovers and guard dogs. The Roman mastiff-type dogs were probably crossed with flock-guarding dogs who could withstand the severe weather in the Alps and also served to soften their temperaments. Berner Sennenhunds where then used as cart-pullers to transport woven goods or dairy products from village to village. During the 1800's the breed had very nearly disappeared due to the interest in the St Bernard, and the lack of concentrated breeding programmes and it was not until the turn of this century that a Swiss cynologist, Herr Franz Schertenlieb, combed the countryside to find the last of these dogs. He did have some success around the Durrbach district of Berne and then a Zurich professor, Albert Heim joined up with him. Thanks to them, the Bernese Mountain Dog made a comeback. At first these dogs were known as either 'Gelbbackler' (yellow cheeks), 'Vierauger' (four eyes) or more commonly, 'Durrbachler'. As they now came from the whole area of Berne and not just Durrbach, in 1908 the club already formed changed their name to Berner Sennenhund. The Bernese had, by then, a huge following in Switzerland, the Continent and Scandinavia and was finally recognised in America in 1936. Canada followed suit in the 1970's but the breed still remains relatively rare in Great Britain.


Strikingly aristocratic, Berners are one of the most attractive of the Swiss working dogs with their gleaming black coats and illustrious markings. Their coats are soft and silky with a thick under-lay. They are strong, sturdy dogs with tremendous bone and power of the shoulders and long balanced strides. They reach their full adult height at about 15 months but can take another 2 or 3 years to reach full maturity.

Feeding & Ownership

As puppies, it is imperative that you stick to the breeder's recommended diet sheet in order to prevent skeletal defects and bone and joint problems.


Berners are good-natured dogs who love to be included in all aspects of family life, making wonderful companions. They are affectionate, patient dogs and especially good with children, protecting them if necessary. They need to be with people and be given affection. They will bark to advise the arrival of visitors but will soon settle down again. Provided they have been introduced to cats and other household animals when young, they will always accept them. Some of them can be dominant with other dogs.


Daily grooming is a must to keep them tangle-free and to reduce the amount of shedding. The hair between the pads should be trimmed regularly.


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